The British Council, which is meant to promote the UK overseas have been accused of attempting to undermine the government’s policy on immigration; after claiming that new plans to restrict the number of international students in UK universities will damage the economy and affect the education sector’s brand.

The British Council have warned that both Australia and the USA suffered when their governments tightened entry requirements for undergraduates; however a leading pressure group has said that the British Council has drew the wrong lessons from other countries experiences.

Migration Watch UK says that the studying route is open to abuse and that the authorities are correct to crack down on it; with the chairman of Migration Watch UK saying: “It is surprising that a Government-funded body should be issuing material designed to undercut Government policy and even more surprising that they should have tried to spin their report to suggest that tightening our visa system would discourage genuine applicants.

“The real lesson of their report is crystal clear; student routes are open to manipulation. In our view, therefore, the government needs to reintroduce interviews for applicants, especially in countries of immigration concern. This is what our major competitors do without any negative effect on genuine and capable applicants”

It has been reported that students from overseas account for a large proportion of new arrivals to theUK, and until recently little attempt has been made to track their movements after graduation.

However, under changes to student visas, students on English language courses can now only stay for eleven months, with the costs of visas rising –and from April 2012, foreign students will not be allowed to remain in the country after graduation unless they have an offer of a skilled job.